Space Commerce

Space Systems Command Awards $45.5M Launch Service Order To Northrop Grumman for Prototype EWS Mission

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
Space Systems Command
May 26, 2023
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Space Systems Command Awards $45.5M Launch Service Order To Northrop Grumman for Prototype EWS Mission
Space Force

The U.S. Space Force’s Small Launch and Targets Division’s Office at Kirtland Air Force Base, Albuquerque, New Mexico, part of the Space Systems Command (SSC) Assured Access to Space organization, awarded a $45.5 million task order to Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation on May 24 via an Orbital Services Program (OSP)-4 Indefinite Delivery / Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract.

The contract will provide orbital launch services for the SSC Space Sensing Directorate’s latest spacecraft innovation, the Electro-Optical Infrared (EO/IR) Weather System (EWS) prototype, known as EWS Operational Demonstration-1, for a U.S. Space Force mission designated as USSF-261S-A.

The EWS prototype will prove out new EO/IR sensor technology to provide operational quality data to the DoD weather community and inform development of a more cost-effective and proliferated operational architecture. Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation will accomplish one launch of its Minotaur IV rocket to deliver the prototype satellite to low earth orbit. The launch of EWS Operational Demonstration-1 on USSF-261S-A is planned for May 2025.

“The Space Force is committed to increasing speed in space acquisitions, and launch is an important part of the solution. We are excited to support future weather capabilities with this launch, using our flexible contracting approach to acquire the launch service in just five months,” said Lt. Col. Justin Beltz, SSC’s chief of the Small Launch and Targets Division. “We are relentless about improving and streamlining the way we do business to use the best industry has to offer,” he added.

The OSP-4 contract allows for the rapid, competitive acquisition of launch services to meet mission requirements enabling launch within 12-24 months from task order award. OSP-4 also allows for periodic on-ramps to ensure emerging, innovative launch providers can compete for future missions.

Space Systems Command is the U.S. Space Force’s field command responsible for acquiring and delivering resilient war fighting capabilities to protect our nation’s strategic advantage in and from space. SSC manages an $11 billion space acquisition budget for the DoD and works in partnership with joint forces, industry, government agencies, and academic and allied organizations to accelerate innovation and outpace emerging threats. Our actions today are making the world a better space for tomorrow.

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.